Roughly this time last year, our business blog started to talk about the concept of zero waste, and highlighted the opportunities that moving to a zero waste society can create for businesses across Scotland. As we reach the final stage of the transition period I want to follow on from where that blog left off and talk about the exciting opportunities that the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Plan creates for businesses.

The Zero Waste Plan highlights how we all have an important part to play in creating a zero waste society. It outlines how there is a need to maximise resource efficiency by reusing and recycling more things more often and it shows the environmental and economic advantages that can be created by promoting a Greener Scotland. Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs for future generations, and the Zero Waste Plan outlines how a win win scenario can be created for businesses that look to reduce their costs by becoming more resource efficient.

Recent research shows that if Scottish businesses put some simple waste reduction measures in place, then there is the potential for them to save about 1% of their annual turnover.  That would equate to over £2 billion if all of Scotland’s businesses took the same approach. Iain Gulland, director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Businesses must overcome the perception that going green adds cost – the opposite is true. Those companies that have addressed their environmental performance with even small changes have measured savings in their bottom line.

Zero Waste Scotland is the delivery body that has been put in place to help deliver the Zero Waste Plan and help promote waste reduction behaviour across Scotland. This provides a wide range of advice for a variety of different groups including communities, individuals and businesses. There is a vast quantity of advice and assistance available to those businesses that are looking to take initial steps in promoting resource efficiency, as well as for those who are progressing nicely along their journey towards a more sustainable business.

The new Zero Waste Scotland website is full of information for both large and small businesses looking to reduce their waste and use resources more efficiently. Don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself.


The start of 2011 has seen panda – monium come to Scotland. I am not referring to any weather related issues that you usually see plastering the headlines at this time of year; I am in fact referring to the arrival of two giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.  Tain Tain and Yanguang together make a breeding pair of giant pandas that have been loaned to the zoo for ten years and, although they don’t know it themselves, highlight exciting ties between Scotland and China.

David Windmill, chief executive officer of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which runs Edinburgh Zoo, said: “This is a landmark day for RZSS, Edinburgh Zoo, the UK and China.

“It represents the beginning of a programme of research, education and partnership and the project has huge benefit for the UK and Scotland, both in supporting giant panda conservation and in enhancing our programmes in education, science and conservation.”

Pandas were not the only topic of conversation as the Chinese vice premier made his four day state visit to the UK. Renewable energy was also discussed in great detail. The result of these talks was an exciting green energy deal initially worth £6.4 million, between a Sino-Scots company and a Dumfriesshire-based engineering firm for processing domestic waste into energy. SHBV of China intends to use Scottish Engineering technology to build a new facility converting domestic waste into energy in China.

Gasification is the process that is used to turn waste into energy. This process involves the controlled combustion of municipal waste at temperatures up to 1400 degrees Centigrade. Burning waste at these kind of temperatures creates a gas call Syngas that is then used to generate electricity.  Scotland opened its first waste gasification plant in 2009. This has the capability of dealing with 60,000 tonnes of hazardous and non hazardous waste and can generate 6.2MW of electricity that is exported to the national grid.

This recent Chinese tour has highlighted Scotland as leaders, not only in environmental conservation, but also in renewable energy and green business. It is important for Scottish businesses to continue to lead the way in green business practices, and Zero Waste Scotland are here to help achieve this as we continue to work towards a Zero Waste Society.

The festive period can often be a time for overindulgence, and I am sure anyone who ventures anywhere near their local shops on the weekend before Christmas would agree with me. Overindulging every now and then is something that I think everyone will admit to doing, especially over Christmas when you might well have a large meal of roast turkey and all the trimmings. This is always a particularly enjoyable meal; however, if you think about the long term impacts of eating so much food in such a short space of time, you might actually stop and consider the benefits of reducing your consumption for that one meal. When you reduce your consumption, you can often end up having food left over that can then feed you for the next few days in the form of sandwiches or curry. Our Love Food Hate Waste campaign is able to provide you with some further ideas about what to do with any left over turkey, but the idea of using this food over a longer period of time shows a good example of increasing resource efficiency.

Promoting resource efficiency is something that is applicable to your business model as well as how you might choose to live your life because it can lead to cost savings. Resource efficiency is all about managing raw materials, energy and water in order to minimise waste and thereby reduce cost. Another reason why you would want to increase the resource efficiency of your business is because it can help increase the overall sustainability of your business. Not only does minimising waste output have significant environmental benefits, but there are also clear economic incentives as the costs associated with waste disposal will be minimised. Research has shown that there is the potential to save up to 4.5% of your annual turnover by reducing costs associated with landfill tax. Reducing the quantity of waste that your business generates can lead to increased business efficiencies as you gain a greater understanding of your business processes and this can give you a competitive advantage over your competitors.

There are clearly a number of advantages associated with improving resource efficiencies in business and I will now go on to explain how you can implement changes that will lead to improved resource efficiencies. The first thing that your organisation should do, is to undertake a waste review to see exactly where waste is being created in the first place, and therefore what actions can be taken to reduce this. These reviews can either be done internally, or you can call on organisations such as Zero Waste Scotland who are able to offer businesses of all sizes free advice. When making changes to your business it is important not only to involve your staff, and work with them, but also to consider your entire supply chain. This includes working with your suppliers and your customers so as to examine the true costs associated with waste, and also to help promote change amongst others. It is important to set realistic targets. Remember to start small and grow from there, it is worth remembering that there are numerous simple measures that you can implement before trying a large change. Many small successes are greater than one large project that perhaps does not work as well.

Over the festive period, there are a number of steps that businesses can take to improve their resource efficiencies. These can be simple steps such as anticipating that there might not be as many people in your workplace and therefore remember to get fewer supplies, particularly if the items have a short shelf life or these can be larger steps such as choosing to send out e-cards instead of cards. By examining what resources come into your workplace, it is possible to reduce what comes in and therefore create a more efficient, sustainable workplace and a more profitable new year.

I hope you have a very resourceful, Christmas and an efficient New Year.

Following on from the success of last year, the 20th-28th November 2010 again saw a collaborative effort from organisations across Europe, undertaking specific actions to help minimise waste production and promote waste reduction behaviours. The European Week for Waste Reduction aims to raise awareness of the issues associated with waste production, and more specifically, on the act of preventing the production of waste in the first place, focusing on developing initiatives that reduce waste and thus minimises the negative impacts associated with waste production.

During the European Week for Waste Reduction, local authorities, businesses, educational organisations and community groups are all given the opportunity to help promote sustainable waste reduction behaviors by running different awareness raising campaigns and events. Last year, over two thousand six hundred actions were implemented across fourteen different countries. This year saw a great deal of interest from Scottish organisations with over ninety groups taking part, this figure represents a threefold increase in the number of Scottish organisations that took part last year. The actions varied considerably and included local authority events with a focus on furniture reuse, essay writing competition in schools, eco-fashion shows from textile groups and events by businesses including The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), Wiseman Dairies and the Gleneagles Hotel amongst others.

Focussing on employee engagement RBS ran regional awareness activities and have set up internal means by which staff can make pledges to reduce the quantity of waste that they are producing, looking at paper and disposable items in particular.  Prizes have been used to incentivize staff participation. The success of this initiative will be measured by examining the number of employee who participate, as well as measuring the quantity of waste diverted from landfill.

Throughout European Week for Waste Reduction, Robert Wiseman focussed on reducing plastic waste. Robert Wiseman has a zero landfill target for 2015 and consequently it is important for the dairy to work with its employees to further educate people about how waste is a resource that can be utilised rather than being sent to landfill. By raising awareness amongst the staff through the use of small focus groups, Robert Wiseman will have increased employee understanding which will, in the long run lead to increased resource efficiencies.

Throughout the course of the week, The Gleneagles Hotel worked with its one thousand suppliers in order to raise awareness of the need for suppliers to reduce the packaging that comes with their goods.  This was done by asking suppliers to take-back their packaging, consequently highlighting how much waste is produced and asking them to think more sustainably about how goods are packaged and delivered.

This is just a few examples of what business have done in order to reduce waste and promote resource efficiencies. These examples highlight how important it is for businesses to work with their suppliers, customers and employees in order to promote sustainable business and reduce waste production. The European Week for Waste Reduction produced many ideas of what organisations can do to raise awareness about waste and the advantages of waste reduction. You need not wait another year to take action you can visit our business website for further business case studies and to find out how reducing waste makes good business sense.

Helping you to reduce, reuse and recycle your business waste, the Waste Aware Business site now has a brand new look.

Not only does the site now have a new author for the blog, but it also has a completely new look as well. My first task as the new author is to thank Rachel for entertaining us all over the last few months. It is a hard act to follow, but I will do my best to keep everyone entertained and amused as well as providing insightful information about what is currently happening in the world of business waste.

Modern businesses are constantly changing, and as a result the way in which businesses deal with waste is also changing. The new Waste Aware Business has been adapted to keep up with these changes and offer its users the most up to date information about how businesses can reduce, reuse and recycle their waste and save money. Last week, there was an article in the Scotsman highlighting the positive correlation between waste production and costs, and how businesses are striving to reduce waste so as to reduce costs. This article is well worth a read and is available to view by clicking on the above link, or by going to our News section. Here you will find a variety of different informative stories that relate to business waste and we also list events that you might be interested in attending.

The Recycling Directory is where businesses of all sizes can search for specific materials that they need to get recycled in their local area. It lists over 500 collection services provided by local authorities, private contractors and community enterprises and offers a variety of different information that can help you recycle nearly 80 different materials. The directory is straightforward to use, however, should you require any further information about the resource, we now have a number of how to guides on the site that have been designed to make business recycling even easier.

The site has a variety of different resources that can be used to help raise awareness within your workplace. One such resource is an online poster creator that enables you to design your own recycling posters and tailor them specifically for the recycling needs of your business. This offers you the opportunity to get creative and promote recycling at the same time.

I have only mentioned a few of the sites great features; the site has so much more to offer including case studies, regulatory information and a variety of other resources that can help businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste. I have given you a taster of what the site has to offer, I would now recommend that you explore the site yourself and familiarise yourself with all that it has to offer.

As a business you may feel that you don’t often get the opportunity to showcase and promote all your efforts in waste reduction.  But, making sure that your employees, customers and the wider public know what you are doing and how you are doing it, not only helps to ensures it’s continuing success, but generates a good reputation and publicity for your organisation too.

One way that you can do this, is to take part in this year’s European Week for Waste Reduction which takes place from the 20th-28th November.  Zero Waste Scotland are acting as the official organisers of the week in Scotland, which aims to raise awareness of ways to minimise our waste and encourage change in everyday behaviour in order to reduce the amount of waste produced across Europe.

You could choose to do an extension of a current waste reduction activity that you are already doing, or you could choose to do something completely different as well, and promote them both.  A European Award for the most outstanding and inspiring waste reduction event is also up for grabs!  Some examples of actions you could do include:

  • Measure food waste created in restaurants, canteens or kitchens and provide tips to staff and customers on how they can reduce their waste
  • Arrange a swap day for reusable items, or an office collection of materials such as household goods, clothes and bric-a-brac for reuse
  • Organise a best ‘waste free’ packed lunch competition
  • Run an office waste campaign, encouraging staff to take action to reduce their household waste
  • Run an office ‘best waste reduction idea’ competition

Whatever you decide to do here at Zero Waste Scotland we can provide support with communication materials, PR, event listings and material on waste reduction.

You will need to register your event by the 5th November, you can do this at www.wasteawarescotland.org.uk where you can also find out more information about the week.  If you have any questions about what’s involved you can also speak to my colleague Ylva Haglund on 01786 468 797, or email her at ylva.haglund@ksbscotland.org.uk

Last year we ran the pilot campaign and 33 actions took place in Scotland with a total of 14 countries and 2,500 actions taking place across Europe.  This year we are on track for even more actions, making the week bigger and better, so why not join in and be a part of this European wide activity!

We all know what it’s like to keep putting something off that we really should have started ages ago, whether it’s sorting out that cupboard at the top of the stairs which hasn’t seen the light of day for years, organising your personal files and papers instead of squeezing them into the draw in which you can never find anything when you need to, or even getting around to redecorating, which was just the bedroom that needed doing when you originally thought of doing something, but now seems to have turned into the whole house.  Before you know it the job seems far too big to tackle, with no easy starting point so it’s easier to pretend you can’t see it, rather than thinking of how good it will be when the job is actually finished.

That’s where Start comes in.  It’s the new project established by HRH The Prince of Wales being launched in Scotland by Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) and their Mayday Network in partnership with Essential Edinburgh.  Start promotes and celebrates sustainable living, showcasing best practice examples and providing people with positive messages and easy starting points to begin their sustainable living journey.  HRH The Prince of Wales will be attending the national launch event ‘Start in St Andrew Square’ festival in Edinburgh from Saturday 4th to Monday 6th September which will focus on the key themes of Transport, Energy, Waste, Food/Lifestyle.


Start hopes to build on the success of The Mayday Network, which now has over 2,800 businesses across the UK committed to tackling climate change and creating sustainable business practice.  The network is free to join and asks that your business is dedicated to tackling the effects of climate change.  The benefits of joining the network to your business range from saving money to free support.  The businesses involved in The Mayday Network will play an integral role in developing Start and supporting consumers on the same journey which they have already been through.

If you are an individual or a business who is interested in finding out more, why not join The Mayday Network or go along to one of the Start events so that you can become involved at the beginning of this new journey.  Go on, give it a try, you know what happens when you keep putting it off.